The Benefits of Journaling in the Classroom for Teachers and Students

    Frankie Wallace January 5, 2022

    Journaling is beneficial for everyone. For teachers and students, however, keeping a journal can make the classroom environment a more positive one.

    Keeping journals in a school setting – whether on an elementary, high school, or collegiate level – can help students to manage their mental health, practice self-care, and learn more about themselves every day. For teachers, requiring students to keep journals can open up new worlds. If you have students who are struggling with assignments or you know there’s more beneath the surface, reading their journals can help you discover who they really are.

    With that in mind, let’s cover some of the benefits of journaling for students and teachers alike, and how they can add a lot to the classroom environment and benefit each student. Beyond that, we’ll touch on how journaling in the classroom can create healthy lifelong habits that will benefit young minds into adulthood.


    Mental Health Management

    Most people associate conditions like anxiety and depression with adults. But, kids and teenagers aren’t immune. According to the CDC, approximately 4.4 million children between the ages of 3-17 have been diagnosed with anxiety.

    Kids might not always know how to identify or manage their worries or fears, so it’s important to find out what their triggers are. For example, some children are scared to go to the doctor or might have anxiety over the dentist. Writing about those things can help them to “vent” those worries and might even make them seem less daunting. If a teacher or parent reads those journals, they can help the child work through those fears so they don’t feel like they have to handle them alone.

    Even if a child doesn’t struggle with their mental health, journaling is a great way to decrease stress. For older kids, teens, and college students, journaling can help you to boost your mental health by improving your self-awareness.

    Over time, you’ll observe things like:

    ● Patterns in your thinking and behaviors

    ● Changes in your relationships

    ● Interests

    ● Strengths

    ● Weaknesses

    It’s not uncommon for therapists and counselors to encourage their patients to keep a journal, especially for moments when they’re feeling anxious or depressed. It’s a wonderful form of self-care that allows you to focus on yourself and your innermost thoughts. Plus, you can take it with you almost anywhere. While students can learn a lot about themselves, teachers can also learn a lot about their students, which brings us to our next point...

    Understanding Students

    From a teacher’s standpoint, journaling is a great way to connect with your students and understand where they’re coming from.

    One of the biggest struggles teachers face is understanding a student’s background. If you’re a college professor, you might only see a student once or twice a week. Even as an elementary or high school teacher, you’re only with your students for a few hours each day. You might have a basic understanding or idea of their history or home life, but it’s rarely detailed.

    By encouraging journaling, you’ll learn more about who your students are, which can give you a better perspective as to why they might behave in certain ways in the classroom. For example, if you have a student with behavioral issues, you might find through their journal that they have a difficult home life.

    If you have a student that struggles to turn in assignments, their journal might reveal just how intelligent and gifted they are, but they need some motivation to get things done.

    Journaling can also improve your cultural awareness. Taking every student’s culture into account is crucial for creating an inclusive classroom environment. That’s especially true if you come from a different cultural background. It’s not fair to assume you know everything about a student’s culture. Setting up writing prompts for your classroom can help you to learn something new about the people you’re teaching every day. You’ll learn to be more sensitive to cultural needs and you can even learn a lot about different ethnicities and backgrounds that you may have been oblivious to before.

    Most importantly, getting to know your students through journals can help you to identify any red flags. Journaling is a wonderful way to get even the quietest of pupils to “open up”. Sometimes, their words can be a cry for help, and that’s nothing to take lightly. In that regard, reading your students’ journals comes with a lot of responsibility. But, doing it the right way and taking action when necessary can make a big difference in someone’s life.

    Lifelong Lessons

    No matter the grade or age, students can learn lifelong lessons from journaling. In younger classes, a teacher can present themselves as a model for self-care by encouraging their students to journal. We’ve already touched on the mental health benefits associated with it. But, when it comes to long-term benefits, students can take some of the benefits of journaling with them into the “real world”. Some of those perks include:

    ● Better focus

    ● Higher self-esteem

    ● More creativity

    ● Boosted memory

    ● Enhanced critical thinking skills

    Additionally, journaling can help students of all ages set achievable goals for themselves. Something as simple as writing down a goal can make it seem more real. It can also serve as a motivational tool. Journaling allows students to take their goals one step further by breaking down exactly how they can achieve them. If teachers encourage their students to write down SMART goals, it’s a habit they can carry with them forever.

    Both teachers and students alike can gain so much from journaling in the classroom. Not only will it make for a better experience now, but you’ll take lessons with you that will last a lifetime, and understand the importance of self-care and mental wellness in a world that can sometimes seem very uncertain.

    It’s never a bad time to introduce journaling to children or young adults. Even if you’re a teacher, you’ll get something new out of the experience every year, and you can look back on your writing to see how far you’ve come in your own journey through the years.



    Frankie WallaceAuthor bio:

    Frankie Wallace is a freelance writer from the Pacific Northwest. She writes about a variety of topics and spends her free time gardening.